World music is a genre that encompasses a vast array of sounds, styles, and cultures. It's a term that is used to describe music that is traditional or indigenous to a particular region or country, as well as music that blends elements from multiple cultures and genres.
The term "world music" was coined in the 1980s as a way to describe music that didn't fit into established categories such as rock, pop, or classical. Since then, the genre has expanded to include a diverse range of sounds, from African rhythms and Latin American beats to Indian ragas and Middle Eastern melodies.
One of the defining features of world music is its emphasis on cultural identity and heritage. Many world music artists draw on traditional instruments, scales, and rhythms, and infuse them with contemporary elements to create a sound that is both authentic and innovative.
For example, the Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil is known for blending traditional Brazilian rhythms such as samba and forró with rock and pop influences. The Indian composer and singer A.R. Rahman incorporates classical Indian music and Bollywood-style melodies into his compositions, while the Malian duo Amadou & Mariam infuse West African sounds with blues and rock elements.
World music also provides a platform for artists to explore social and political issues, and to raise awareness about cultural preservation and sustainability. For example, the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo uses its music to promote messages of peace, unity, and equality, while the Canadian singer and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie advocate for indigenous rights and environmental activism through her music.